A Kansas man who pretended to be a doctor and fooled people into paying him for autopsies that his company didn’t perform is expected to plead guilty this week to federal charges.
Shawn Parcells from Leawood, Kansas, filed his intent to plead guilty to autopsy fraud in Topeka. His attorney, David Magariel, declined to comment.
Parcells claimed he was a pathologist but had no medical degree and no formal training. He also faces 10 counts of wire fraud.
National Autopsy Services Claimed To Offer Private Autopsies
Federal prosecutors allege that Parcells’s company, National Autopsy Services, offered private autopsies to families in Kansas. It’s estimated that at least 375 families paid him more than $1 million from 2016 to 2019 for autopsies of family members to determine the cause of death.
However, the autopsies were never provided to the families, the federal indictment reads. Parcells also was convicted in 2021 on six counts of performing autopsies illegally in Wabaunsee County, Kansas.
A lawsuit was filed in 2019 against Parcells for contracting with the county to do autopsies but he didn’t complete them according to state law. In November 2019, a Shawnee County, Kansas judge ordered the Department of Health and Environment to analyze and catalog at least 1600 biological samples that Parcells collected. He was banned from doing autopsies until the lawsuit was resolved.
For autopsies to be done legally, the person needs to be a licensed physician.
Parcells Also Was Indicted for Wire Fraud
In 2020, Parcells also was indicted for federal wire fraud and the government demanded that it would recover at least $1 million in fees that clients paid him.
The federal indictment for the wire fraud read that Parcells falsely told people that they would get an autopsy report from a licensed pathologist, which he indicated would be him.
However, Parcells was only ever a pathology assistant and lacked any formal education. From the late 1990s until 2003, he worked as a pathology assistant in Missouri.
He was the owner of National Autopsy Services in Kansas, where he offered private autopsy services for several years. Clients would usually pay him $3000 plus expenses for a complete analysis and autopsy to determine the cause of death.
He was already banned from offering autopsy services in the state, and he was ordered by a court in Shawnee County, Kansas, to stop providing services related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parcells was offering swabs for COVID testing and to check people who passed away to see if they had the illness.
Parcells Performed The Autopsy For Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri
One of the clients of the autopsy huckster was the family of Michael Brown, who was killed after attacking a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
In 2014, he assisted with the Brown autopsy in Missouri and presented the findings during a press conference. Brown was shot and killed after he tried to disarm a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9, 2014. The man also had an extensive criminal history.
Brown was unarmed, but he tried to take the officer’s gun, so the lawman shot and killed him. However, the shooting still ignited peaceful and violent protests around the country. A St. Louis County grand jury and the DOJ declined to charge the police officer with criminal or civil charges, given that Brown attacked and attempted to disarm him.
Victims’ Families Complained This Year About Slow Progress In The Case
When Parcells was scheduled to be sentenced for criminal charges for wire fraud and felony theft in February of this year, he didn’t show up at the county courthouse in Wabaunsee County.
One of the people who was waiting for him to be sentenced was Roger Boltz. He lost his wife in 2015 and Parcells was working for the county at that time. An autopsy was ordered and paid for but was never done.
Boltz told the press that Parcells is ‘a sleazeball and a liar. That’s just the way it is.’ Boltz said the entire criminal trial process was frustrating, and it started with Parcells’ lab. Parcells let a local TV station go into his lab in 2019 to supposedly prove that the autopsy lab was a legitimate business.
But Boltz didn’t buy the argument. He told the process this year that Parcells was a type of Dr. Jekyll-Hyde person, and the lab resembled Frankenstein’s laboratory.
There were body parts in jars and bodies were lying open in the back on tables. He said the appearance of the lab on TV showed that Parcells was a con artist.
Parcells eventually pleaded guilty to the 10 federal charges he was facing in early 2022. Also, Parcells violated the Consumer Protection Act in Kansas at least 80 times. After the lab was shuttered, all the human samples that Parcells collected were given back to the families.
Boltz also said he doesn’t think Parcells understands the pain and trauma he caused families. He said every time the fraudster would walk into court, he would wave at the families and act like nothing was wrong.
Also, the TV station reported that Parcells tried to sit down with reporters to explain why he did what he did, but families never accepted his explantations.
He claimed that he studied to be a neurosurgeon and wanted to be one years ago. But he said he never claimed he was a doctor or went to medical school.